From the time the first American set foot on this continent, at least 150 centuries ago, his concern for shelter required a substantial portion of his energy and imagination. Much of what we know about him is reflected in his constructions, whether flimsy huts in the open or in caves, elaborate stone dwellings, or religious structures. When the first Europeans and later immigrants arrived, they too sought to modify the environment, bringing with them the building traditions of their fathers, thereby contributing to the richness and extraordinary diversity of architecture in the United States.
Many of us have visited our Federal, State and local parks and landmarks where the remains of such prehistoric and historic structures are being preserved. During these visits, we have been enriched and moved by the spirit of our distant predecessors reflected in their will to build and exercise their artistic talents. We may also have seen the effect of time's unrelenting assault on man's creations. Wind, rain, heat and cold destroy the sturdiest of structures. Add to these fire, plant growth, bacteria, insects, rodents, and even man himself, and the forces that eventually turn great edifices to rubble are better understood.
Although the forces that destroy cannot be controlled everywhere and at all times, we can insure that future generations will experience some of the richness of this archeological and historic heritage. The contents of this book provide a partial answer. It tells us how to go about the business of preservation in a straightforward way. It assumes that time heals no wounds where the works of man are left to the vicissitudes of nature. And it assumes that there will always be men willing to learn the fundamentals of ruins stabilization, which often combines hard labor with the application of the most recent advances in chemistry and construction technology.
This guide was compiled by Roland Von S. Richert and the late R. Gordon Vivian, both with many years of experience in the stabilization of ruins for the Nation al Park Service. The work will be of great value to historians, archeologists, and architects. For the student of ruins stabilization, and for construction and maintenance personnel of local, State, and Federal agencies, it should prove indispensable.
RONALD H. WALKER, Director
Last Updated: 16-Apr-2007